For 18 year old Zabiha Yasin and her 14 year old sister Maliha from Whalley Range, Manchester, who both have the relatively little known condition Leukodystrophy, life has changed quite dramatically since receiving their Etac E890 standing capability powerchairs back in June of this year.
Up until the summer with their standard issue NHS powerchairs, everyday life for the sisters whether that be that at home, school or college presented a good many physical challenges for them and their parents Amjid and Asima Yasin. Diagnosed with Leukodystrophy, a rare group of genetic disorders that affect the white matter of the brain during their earlier childhood, both girls previously relied heavily on the support of their parents and carers to remain mobile. However now that Zabiha and Maliha have their high-tech multi-functional Etac E890 powerchairs, which amongst other things enable them to stand completely upright and achieve far greater levels of independent mobility; their lifestyles have improved beyond measure.
As Mr Amjid Yasin, the girls’ father explains, this extraordinary story began two years ago. Francis House, a local Children’s Hospice providing care for children with life limiting conditions, approached the Caudwell Children’s Trust on the family’s behalf to arrange a fully funded trip to Florida in November 2009. Shortly after this fabulous holiday and having met with Caudwell Trust Chief Executive Trudi Beswick and her hardworking team, they were to receive an invitation to the Butterfly Ball. It was here that as well as attending with stars such as Peter Andre, Liz Hurley and music legend Sir Elton John, they were to meet remarkable 11-year-old Tilly Griffiths. Despite her Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Tilly is the inspiration behind fundraising in excess of £2 million for Caudwell Children.
Impressed by Tilly’s Etac Balder powerchair and its dazzling array of features, the family were encouraged by her mother, Jackie, to apply to the Caudwell Trust in order to receive funding for similar powered wheelchairs for Zabiha and Maliha. Mr Yasin comments: “I could not believe how quick this whole process was. It literally took a matter of weeks from submission of our funding application, to approval of Etac’s quotations – some £44,000 in total for two powerchairs. What’s more, we were extremely impressed by the professionalism of Mike McConnell, Etac’s Sales Advisor. He was considerate and attentive to our daughters needs at all times, right from initial consultation all the way through to delivery and training on the chairs.”
Mr Yasin goes on to remark: “Once the girls had mastered the various controls on their new chairs, there was no stopping them. It was as if they were granted a new lease of life. Before they were quiet and withdrawn, worried they were too much trouble to be taken out, opting to stay indoors instead. Now they are happy to be taken or even go out by themselves. They seldom want to leave their chairs. In fact they are so pleased with them and find them so comfortable that sometimes they prefer to take their afternoon nap in them rather than go to bed!”
Thanks to the Etac E890’s tilt-in-space function and electrically elevated leg rests, both girls are now able to adjust their seat and leg positions at the simple flick of a switch without calling for assistance. As well as providing the girls with much needed around the clock comfort, the chairs’ unique standing capability alleviate the risk of pressures sores and circulatory problems. Now able to look everyone directly in the eye, it is perhaps this ability to stand upright that has had the biggest single impact on the sisters’ lives and the way they interact with those around them.
Amongst the other features that have made a difference, are the chairs’ front wheel drive and four separate speed settings. Zabiha for example, can often be seen now at the local athletics club, racing around the track with Dad lagging behind trying to keep up on his bicycle. Former British Wheelchair Dance Champion Maliha on the other hand, is especially pleased with the E890’s seat raise and lower function. She is now able to access all the ingredients she needs in the kitchen unaided so she can go about preparing such favourite family dishes as pasta salad, scones and cheesecake.
“Over the moon” as Zabiha describes how she felt the day her Etac E890 powerchair arrived, the Yasin family are incredibly grateful to both Caudwell and Etac for funding and supplying their daughters’ life-changing wheelchairs. In typical unselfish style, Mr Yasin, says: “It was quite by accident that we came to discover Etac powerchairs and the generous funding available from charities such as the Caudwell Trust. I’m sure there are many more families out there, who just like us, are making do with basic NHS wheelchairs but whose lives would be similarly transformed if only they knew about these wonderful Etac powerchairs.”
Zabiha Yasin (left) and younger sister Maliha (right) pictured at home in their recently delivered Etac E890 powerchairs.